Simply put, Top Gun has a staggering level of horniness coming off the screen. Not so much the horniness between Maverick and perfunctory love interest and Miramar lecturer Charlotte (Kelly McGillis), a major misstep that makes a complete fool out of Charlotte in risking her career for Cruise’s entitled douchiness. Instead, Scott’s camera gazes at all the male bodies onscreen, repeatedly and longingly. This is a sweaty film, even indoors. Cruise and Kilmer are often nose-to-nose, and seem one or two lines away from jumping on top of each other. The famous volleyball scene has flexing and poses, and, hilariously, no wide shots of Cruise spiking the ball over the net. There is a scene transition from the film’s famous tragedy to Cruise bent over a bathroom sink in grief, his briefs-clad butt 50% damp and 30% of the screen. Why isn’t this a midnight movie with a constant refrain of ‘kiss him!’ It’s impossible to tell if Scott and his cast is in on the joke, but the larger question is how could they not be when it’s all so obvious?
Can Top Gun be taken as a subversive film for the testosterone-laden set if the Navy set up recruitment stations outside of screenings? What is subversive about it, in that the renegade character eventually falls into line, loses its power because he’s falling into line with the most powerful military on the planet. The final theme is trust the military, as they know what they’re doing. Whatever this film’s considerable and puzzling failings, it is not boring. A film that lingers is doing something right. C+